French jewellery designer, Frédéric Mané is a consultant designer with over 16 years of experience. Mané who collaborates with signature brands and luxury workshops at Vendôme told Daily News Egypt (DNE) that the base of his inspiration is his Mediterranean roots, from the beautiful mountain sides on the coast to the life found on and below the Mediterranean Sea.
DNE interviewed Mané to get to know his inspirations, how his journey began, and how he viewed the Egyptian and Arab jewellery design scene.
Tell us about yourself, including and your steps to become a consultant designer in jewellery?
I was born in Perpignan in the south of France in 1982.
I grew up in front the Mediterranean Sea and I spent my childhood between Perpignan, Collioure, and Cadaquès. Mediterranean cultures are my roots. My grandfather is Catalan and my grandmother is from Tunisia. Beyond my French nationality, I grew up around three cultures, French, Catalan, and Tunisian. My family founded a toy shop in the south of France and I spent my childhood surrounded by a mesmerising atmosphere full of tales, legends, and arts. I was born an artist and I drew characters full of jewels all the time. I liked creating fantastic universes and after I used to convert my paintings into real objects, sculptures en argile.
When I was 18 years old, I understood jewellery and art objects were my destiny, so I decided to move to Paris to study design. I quickly learnt the “Haute école” jewellery painting technics. Just after I was head designer for six years at Mathon Paris, I found a significant family atelier at Place Vendome.
For four years, I was a consultant designer, I had my design studio and I collaborated with luxury groups and maintained a deep relationship with Parisian jewellers and international signature brands. With a strong and broad experience in design, particularly in jewellery and the design of precious objects and accessories, I am a happy man!
Craftmanship and workshops are a fascinating universe. I like sharing my project with a team of experts.
I consider jewellery a body of collective body of work in which each member of the orchestra plays his part and expresses the excellence of his art. The culmination of the work is the fruit of a unique symbiosis, where each one is equally important. The technique and precision of the gesture are at their highest expectation to reveal a panel of emotions. Alone, I am just an artist, with my team I can create more than a drawing!
How did you jump in jewellery design from identity to professionalism?
Thanks to all my mentors and first employers for believing in me, they offered me many opportunities to develop my skills, and good thing I’m a hard worker
Did you receive a scholarship to study jewellery?
I am very grateful for my parents for believing in me, they offered me the opportunity to study in Paris for three years. Just after getting a masters, I decided to apply for an international programme for two years. I had to spend two days in classes and three days in a design agency every week. Fortunately, the agency was paying for the rest of my studies.
What are the Parisian and international brands you collaborate with?
I collaborate with signature brands and luxury workshops at Vendôme, allowing them to follow the design process – from the technical, conceptual, and creative process to the fabrication – and all its subtleties and technicalities. I exhibit my projects around the world – particularly in the Emirates and in Asia – where I promote brands and our work while meeting clients and collectors for whom we create unique custom-made pieces using a rich palette of colours and styles.
I am very discreet about my clients, there are some royal families and collectors and I regularly work with LVMH group and Richemont. My last amazing collaboration was different, I co-signed with Rubeus Milano, a brand considered as ” Ultimate luxury. ” I designed an amazing project exhibited to the palace of Louvre.
I’ve participated in plenty of big exhibitions, Baselword Switzerland many times, Hongkong fairs, and Couture Las Vegas. I also did a lot of confidential trunk shows around the world. My favourite was in July to the Louvre and six years ago to the Emirates palace in Abu Dhabi.
Tell us about your design style, what makes your collections unique in the industry?
Maybe my style is a rich creative universe that incorporates all styles and inspirations, my studio is where design is transformed into a concept, starting with hand-drawn sketches. My studio offers its expertise both in the knowledge of rare stones and in innovative materials. I propose the best traditional practices paired with new technology to create collections and exceptional pieces. From the creation of our collections to their fabrication, a spirit of collaboration that specifies each design house. I also make sure that each member of the marketing team and each artistic director are respected.
I can create a minimalist or outstanding piece, ultra-baroque, or very modern. I am a kind of chameleon, but I always have my DNA and roots lighting my inspirations.
What about the story behind the ‘Imperial’ collection and rock crystal necklace?
As a patron of the arts, the collectors and founders of Rubeus Milano Nataliya and Viktor Bondarenko invited me to create a full collection around the biggest and rarest Alexandrites in the world. Alexandrite from Russia is the best colour change stone, it has a natural effect from green on daylight to purple on incandescent light. As a designer, I had a free hand and no budget limit, it’s a unique opportunity.
To imagine the Rubeus Imperial Alexandrite Collection, I have been inspired by a cluster of quartz crystals lying on a deep blue plate of lapis lazuli somewhere in Moscow…
After a few hours of an intense and pure creative moment, I came with my first draft … two magnificent jewels showing like a spray of crystallinity emerging from the Earth all around some exceptional alexandrites… one of the rarest and mysterious gems known to mankind.
I decided to create a collection inspired by Mother Nature, the usual theme in jewellery is “Stones Information”, rough crystals growing, a modern artistic vision to tribute this treasure of nature, from the depths of the earth to the sky.
What does a typical day look like for you as a jewellery designer?
Each morning I visit my workshop partners around Place Vendome to check my models, afterwards I visit my clients to show my drawings; I try to end my day in my design studio, surrounded by my books and painting, searching for new ideas.
What’s your favourite piece of the jewellery you made and why?
My favourites pieces of jewellery are the ones designed with soul and a deep connection with others: brand, designer, jewellers, and final customers
How many collections have you issued so far?
With no doubt, I have created more than one thousand models. I am very prolific, but my main goal is the highest quality for each design.
What are your favourite materials to use?
All metals combined with translucent stone are my favourite combination.
What is your favourite diamond shape?
Kite cut, like a kite flying for children, an invitation to continue your childhood.
What is the strangest request you’ve received for a custom design piece?
A “Dis-engagement ring” a sulphurous special order called Boa constrictor ring.
Not yet, it’s one of my dreams. I hope to visit this amazing country very soon. As I told you my grandmother is Tunisian, and like her ancestors, Arabic was her native language. Shen I was a baby she use to sing Egyptians songs to me, her favourite singer was Oum Kalthoum, such a mesmerising voice!
Have you seen the jewellery of Tutankhamun? Or read the book “The Pharaohs Jewellery” by Cyril Eldred?
One of my first jewellery books was the jewellery of Tutankhamun, as a young artist, I was fascinated! When I was six years old my grandmother got it for me as a birthday gift.
Have you tried to design a collection of jewellery from the spirit of ancient Egyptian jewellery?
Of course, my family visited Egypt many times, I have many books and stories, one of my favourite stories is the tale of Selkys called Goddess Scorpion. I painted a big masterpiece in homage to Selkys.
What is your view on the jewellery industry in the Arab world? What needs to be improved?
A positive view of the new generation, because new designers mix their culture with a contemporary style. I appreciate a lot of new brands like Sevan Bicakci from Turkey or Nuun from Saudi, she has a very modern and delicate vision of jewellery, she is very inspired by her native culture.
As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?
The base of my inspiration is my Mediterranean roots, from the beautiful mountain sides on the coast to the life found on and below the Mediterranean Sea.
I like to mix those roots with new influences, it’s very important for me to listen and understand my customers, their dreams and goals. I am kind of a magic chameleon able to convert many influences and sometimes opposite ideas into pieces of art.
What are the upcoming trends in the jewellery design industry?
I am not concerned about trends; I follow only my heart.
I am a big fan of Zaha Hadid and Salvador Dali, also my close friend the painter Emeline Piot, and Jothi Seroj sculpt jeweller.
What challenges do you face in your work?
Building a strong relationship between designer, workshop, and client. When you have an ambitious challenge like the Imperial collection for Rubeus Milano, it’s important to be a diplomatic guide and in the same way, stay an artistic director.
The challenge was amazing, we had to create a collection of 12 masterpieces made by Jothi Seroj, sculptor jeweller in Paris in the rule of art in only six months.
My last challenge was to create a collection for Hoehls wellness high jewellery, mixing rough stone with traditional jewellery.
What are some international awards you’ve received?
In 2014, I was rewarded by the Chinese government Price of excellence for my project Firehorse.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am working on an unusual project of watches and objets d’arts where I’m breaking some rules for a new company.
A fantastic collaborative project. Also a new outstanding collection for Rubeus.
What advice would you have for aspiring jewellery designers?
Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, work a lot to upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world because people are a real source of inspiration.